Cabot Financial Services: Listening is key to best-fit approach

    January 22, 2020
    When coming up with a plan for driving down personal debt, there are many strategies for keeping tabs on your loans, paying them back faster and staying on track. And for good reason: if you fall behind, debt collectors are quick to follow up. But if financial institutions are smart, they'll help you come up with an affordable repayment plan that helps you recover as quickly as possible. After all, the most important step in reducing debt is simply making a conscious decision to do so.

    That's the perspective of Cabot Financial Services of Ireland, a leader in consumer credit management, which combines its proven application software with contact centre expertise to deliver outsourced credit and collections services for more than 40 credit unions across Ireland. The company relies on Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) to assure resilience for the IT infrastructure that supports this critical service.

    Cabot is now teaming up with Sungard AS to complete a phased migration to the AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud, fully managed by Sungard AS, to support its primary and recovery environments. Here's why:

    In 2014, when Cabot began providing its credit management application software to financial institutions, the company initially worked through a third-party administrator – which in turn relied on Sungard AS for data centre hosting services.

    As a result, Cabot decided to bring both contracts in house and build a business process outsourcing (BPO) business, in which the company would take end-to-end responsibility for a credit union's credit management operations and provide it as a service.

    "Obviously, IT is a critical foundation for that service, to ensure we're fully accountable for resilience and security and have the flexibility to scale with ease," says Gerard Clear, head of IT for Cabot Financial Ireland. But in their early conversations with Sungard AS, it became apparent that the previous hosting contract lacked some of the recovery capabilities they needed to assure the resilience of the BPO business.

    Clear talked with several vendors, including Sungard AS, to explore options and approaches for infrastructure, disaster recovery, and associated services. Prior to his role at Cabot, Clear spent nearly a decade working for managed services providers, so he was a particularly well-informed evaluator of such services.

    "The Sungard AS approach stood out," says Clear. "Their team took the time to learn about the Cabot business and our requirements, as well as the challenges we faced given limited resources. We worked through the details to design a solution, fully managed by Sungard AS, that could give us a resilient, secure, flexible platform based on AWS cloud resources for both our primary and recovery environments."

    The AWS cloud can scale to meet the needs of the rising BPO business – currently supporting 45 credit unions – as well as other key aspects of the Cabot Financial Ireland business.

    The BPO service relies on highly trained Cabot call-centre agents working with individuals who have fallen behind on debt payments. Agents track all contacts and progress in the Cabot-developed credit management application, which credit unions then monitor to understand the status of their non-performing loan portfolio.

    "Every week, our management team sits down and listens to several different agent conversations with customers, to see how we're performing and how we can continuously improve our efforts," states Clear. "Our goal is to help every customer on their financial recovery journey. We listen to their circumstances, then come up with a plan. Once customers realise we're truly listening and trying to find a solution, the telephone conversations change big time."

    Clear sees direct parallels between Cabot's focus on listening to its customers and the kind of consultative approach he's found in his interactions with Sungard AS.

    "Sungard AS took the time to size up exactly what our business required," says Clear. "We weren't looking for the Rolls Royce of systems – we wanted a resilient infrastructure tailored to our business that took advantage of the economies of the AWS public cloud. Sungard AS had the expertise to bring together all of the pieces and back it with 24/7 management and monitoring."

    As Cabot hands off infrastructure responsibility to Sungard AS, Clear says the company's IT staff can redirect its energy to other areas. "We can do all the really good stuff that people in IT want to do – to put out the fires once and for all, and truly manage IT on behalf of the business." And it all starts with simply listening to your clients – to build trust, and gain understanding, and preserve your reputation.

    Read more about Cabot Financial Services’ engagement with Sungard AS in our latest case study.

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